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Aggression most common behavior problem in dogs Many types of aggression – Some innate – Some due to learning history – Some due to interaction Most can be treated
Territorial Aggression Wild canids ARE territorial. – live in certain area, defend this area from intruders. – Wolves are highly territorial. – Coyote/wolf who’s not part of a pack invades their territory, the residents attack/drive off intruder. Some dogs display the same tendencies. – bark and charge at people or other animals encroaching on their home turf. – often valued for this level of territorial behavior. – some dogs take this a step farther: attack and bite any intruder Territorial aggression can occur along the boundary regularly patrolled by a dog or at the boundaries of her pet parents’ property. – Other dogs show only toward people/animals coming into the home. – Male and female dogs are equally prone to territorial aggression. – Puppies rarely territorial. – Territorial behavior usually emerges at adolescence early adulthood; one to three years of age.
Protective Aggression Dogs = social species. – If left on their own, – live together in small groups, packs, of family/friends. – If one member in danger, the others rush to defend – This is classified as protective aggression: dogs are protecting one of their own. Pet dogs protect “their” pack….family members or friends – Sometimes only for those “lower” or more vunerable than themselves. – Little kids or her litter of puppies. – New baby is s “threat” to her people parents (think of the sounds that baby makes!) – Both male and female dogs equally prone – Puppies are rarely protective; emerges in adolescence or adulthood, at one to three years of age.
Possessive Aggression Dogs have left over evolutionary instinct to compete for food, nesting sites and mates to survive. Thus, many pet dogs still show tendency to guard possessions from others – Food or food bowl (sometimes even water bowl) – Toys – People – Resting spots Usually easy to identify because only aggressive when has something s/he covets. – some dogs hide cherished things around the house; guard them from unsuspecting people or animals – Male and female dogs are equally prone to possessive aggression, – IS common in both puppies and adults.
Rules of Possession for Dogs If it's mine it's mine if it's yours it's mine if I like it is mine if I can take it from you it is mine if I am playing with something ALL of the pieces are mine if I think it is mine it is if I saw it first it's mine if I had it then put it down it is still mine if you had it then you put it down it is now mine if it looks like the one I have hidden or already ate, it is mine
Fear Aggression When afraid of something, get away from it – Escape – Avoidance – Aggression – Fear, flight, fight Can be afraid of a person/animal/thing – Attacks if this is only recourse – Look for hierarchy of behavior: Fear Escape/avoidance Then aggression – E.g., cowering, running away, Note: when “aggressor” turns back, may attack! – avoid turning your back on a fearful dog. Fear aggression is characterized by rapid nips or bites: – fearful dog is motivated to bite and then run away. – Aggression may not begin with clear threats or warning – It is the fearful posture, retreat or running away and avoidance that IS the cue! – Male and female dogs are equally prone to fear aggression – Common in both puppies and adults.
Defensive Aggression Closely related to defensive aggression. primary difference: strategy adopted by the dog. – Defensively aggressive dogs motivated by fear – instead of trying to retreat, they decide that the best defense is a good offense. exhibit a mixture of fearful and offensive postures. – may initially charge at a person or another dog who frightens them, barking and growling. – Then show avoidance/escape – defensively aggressive dog often delivers the first strike. – Only if victim retreats does defensively aggressive dog abort attack. Male and female dogs are equally prone to defensive aggression. Slightly more common in adults than in puppies – Older dogs have more confidence – Have had time to develop this defensive strategy
Social Aggression Occurs in animals who live in social groups-certain rules in order to minimize conflict between group members. Canid species: adopt type of hierarchical order that influences which group members get – Food first – Resting spot first – First chance to mate, etc. Not have to constantly fight for status; know place in hierarchy – Dogs lower down on the totem pole know to wait until the higher-ups have had their share before taking their turn. – But: ordered relationships frequently reinforced by displays of ritualized aggression. Ritualized Aggression: – aggressive threats to remind others of their place in the pack. – dog may perceives him/herself as high or low in status Show aggression differently to different family members Kids = lower; show aggression
aggressive response provoked by things that a dog perceives as threatening or unpleasant Taking food away Taking a chew bone, toy or stolen object away Disturbing the dog while she’s sleeping Physically moving the dog while she’s resting Hugging or kissing the dog Bending or reaching over the dog Manipulating the dog into a submissive posture (a down or a belly-up position) Lifting or trying to pick up the dog Holding the dog back from something she wants Grooming, bathing, towelling or wiping the dog’s face Touching the dog’s ears or feet Trimming the dog’s nails Jerking or pulling on the dog’s leash, handling her collar or putting on a harness Verbally scolding the dog Threatening the dog with a pointed finger or rolled-up newspaper Hitting or trying to hit the dog Going through a door at same time as the dog or bumping into the dog
Social Aggression Social aggression is somewhat more common in males than in females More common in purebreds than in mixed breeds. Puppies rarely socially aggressive with people, but can be with other dogs, particularly littermates. Social aggression usually develops in dogs between one to three years of age.
Many issues in understanding Social Aggression Complexities involved in social aggression are poorly understood and hotly debated by behavior experts: – One belief: all social aggression is rooted in fear and anxiety, – Other side: motivated by anger and the desire for control. – Truth: both are true When consulting a professional, make sure you’re comfortable with her treatment recommendations. Data show that techniques for instilling fear and respect in dogs don’t work: – such as alpha rolls, scruff shakes; hanging – a very good chance that your dog will get worse rather than better—and you might get bitten in the process. Punishment may be appropriate, but only when it’s well planned and limited in application, and used in conjunction with a reward program!.
Frustration-Elicited Aggression Dogs get frustrated, and can sometimes lash out with aggression. Dog that is excited or aroused by something but is back from approaching it – can become aggressive – particularly toward the person or thing holding her back. E.g.,: frustrated dog might turn around and bite at her leash or bite at the hand holding her leash or collar. – Over time, learn to associate restraint with feelings of frustration – even when there’s nothing to be excited about, tends to react aggressively when restrained. – explains why some normally friendly dogs become aggressive when put behind a gate, in a cage or crate, in a car, or on a leash. Male and female dogs are equally prone occurs in both puppies and adults.
Redirected Aggression like frustration-elicited aggression with the exception that the dog need not be frustrated. occurs when dog is aroused by or displays aggression toward a person or animal, and someone else interferes. – dog redirects aggression from the source that triggered it to the person/animal who has interfered. – Freud’s displacement! – Result: people who break up dog fights are often bitten – when two dogs are barking at someone from behind a fence, one will turn and attack the other. Male and female dogs are equally occurs in both puppies and adults.
Pain-elicited Aggression Typical reaction to pain Very critical to carefully handle dog in pain, even if she’s your own. – bite with little warning, even if the reason you’re touching her is to treat her. – Also: improper use of certain pieces of restraint equipment can inflict pain on a dog and prompt a pain-elicited bite Idiopathic Rage syndrome Male and female dogs are equally prone can occur in both puppies and adults.
Sex-Related Aggression Even though neutered, will still occur – intact male dogs will still vie for the attention of females in heat, – females will still compete for access to a male. Intact male dogs challenge, fight with other male dogs, even when no females are present. Also occurs males living together in the same household. – In wild: adaptive because the strongest males more likely to attract females for breeding. – females living together in the same household also might compete to establish which female gets access to a male, but this is rare More likely in male dogs More likely in adult dogs (1 to 3; even IF neutered)
Predatory Aggression Canids = predators – pet dogs still show some classic canine predatory behaviors – chasing and grabbing fast-moving things. – running people, people on bicycles and inline skates, and cars. – Other pets, wildlife and livestock. Some dogs bite and even kill if they manage to catch the thing they’re chasing; others the chase is more important than the catch Predatory aggression very different from other classifications of aggression – rarely any warning before an attack. – Comes “out of blue” – Elicited by innate predatory cue – Sometimes the sound of a baby crying or the movement of lifting a baby out of a crib can trigger a lightening-fast reaction from a predatory dog. Equal in males and females More likely in adults, but may begin to observe early on in pups
Family members or Strangers? Must determine whom your dog is aggressive towards – common for dogs to behave aggressively toward unfamiliar people. – 60 to 70% of all pet dogs bark threateningly at strangers and act unfriendly when around them. – Aggression toward unfamiliar dogs widespread. Less common for dogs to direct aggression toward family members or other pets in the home. – Children are most problematic, especially child family members – Adults too trustworthy – Instincts too strong Some dogs aggressive only to a certain category of people. – veterinarian or groomer, mailman – Wheels: wheelchairs or individuals using canes and walkers. In some cases – Races or genders of people – Ages of people Often due to experience!!!!! Treatment – Socialization under controlled settings – Otherwise, keep dog away from triggers
Aggression Risk FActors Size of the dog Age of the dog Bite history Severity of the bite Predictability of who targeted – Targets : How often your dog is exposed to the targets of her aggression – Triggers – Identify triggers and treat – Or keep away Ease of motivating/redirecting your dog
Are some breeds more aggressive? Yes and no Goes back to risk factors – Size – Hunting, herding tendences – Training and experience – Age – individuals still carry their ancestors’ DNA in their genes, which means that members of a particular breed might be predisposed to certain types of aggression. neither accurate nor wise to judge a dog by her breed. Far better predictors of aggressive behavior problems: – dog’s individual temperament – history of interacting with people and other animals.
Blackshaw, 1991 According to Blackshaw: most common dogs to bite are – Bull Terrier (16%) – German Shepherd (15%) – Cattle dog breeds (9.2%) – Terrier Breeds (9%) – Labs and Goldens (8%) – Poodle and Cocker Spaniel (5.7%) – Rotweiler (4.6%)
Different reasons why bite: Goes back to type of aggression – Herding dogs – Hunting dogs – Ancient breeds more likely to bite outsiders and family Types of aggression – Dominance: 31.6% – Territorial: 29% – Predatory: 12.3% – Intermale: 12.3% – Sibling Rivalry: 7.9% – Fear biting: 6% – Idiopathic rage: 0.9%
Interesting to review list: German Shepherd (12%) Rottweiler (7.5%) Cattle dog (4.7%) Chihuahua (4%), Labrador (3.8%) Dobermann (3.4%) Cocker Spaniel ( 3.2% ) Bull Terrier ( 3.1% ) Boxer (3%) Poodle (2.9%) Border Collie, Golden Retriever and Staffordshire Bull Terrier (all 2.8%), Australian Silkie Terrier (2.3%) Collie varieties (2.2%) Maltese and Welsh Corgies (both 2.1%) Dachshund and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (both 2%) Shetland sheepdog ( 1.4% ).
Who to get for help Always Work with Your Veterinarian – Rule out health conditions – Don’t be afraid of drugs as a helper Always Work with a Professional Behavior Expert – Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB or ACAAB) – veterinary behaviorist (Dip ACVB) – Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) in your area. – If you choose to employ a CPDT, be sure that the trainer is qualified to help you.
Can aggression be “cured” Can Aggression Be Cured? – Not “cured”, but treated – behavior modification techniques may reduce or eliminate under certain circumstances – But still dealing with instinct and learning history no guarantee that an aggressive dog can be completely cured. Pet parents responsible for their dogs’ behavior and must take precautions to ensure that no one’s harmed. Sometimes, only solution is euthanasia – What is best for dog – What is safe for dog